We were in charge of the first experimental house, and in the process of designing, we got a number of clues from “Chise,” the traditional housing style of the Ainu. What is most characteristic about Chise is that it is a “house of grass” and “house of the earth.” While in Honshu (the main island) a private house is principally a “house in wood” or “house of earthen wall,” Chise is distinctively a “house of grass,” as the roof and the wall are entirely covered with sedge or bamboo grass so that it can secure heat-insulating properties. Also, in Honshu the floor is raised for ventilation to keep away humidity, whereas in Chise they spread cattail mat directly on the ground, make a fireplace in the center, and never let the fire go out throughout the year. The fundamental idea of Chise, “house of the earth,” is to keep warming up the ground this way and retrieve the radiation heat generated from it.
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